Pixies, Gorillaz Nix Israel Trip. Why?

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, released a statement about the band’s decision to bow out of the Israeli festival Pic.Nic, saying: “The decision was not reached easily. We all know well the Israeli fans have been waiting for this visit for far too long. We’d like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans, but events beyond all our control have conspired against us.” I’ve read this statement over and over again and if Black intended to transmit an effective political message through this cryptic and ambiguous message, he has failed. Which events have conspired against him? Is he referring to the Gaza Flotilla? And if so, how is that an event that has conspired against Kim Deal? Black & Co. have squandered their opportunity to say anything meaningful and are responding to the current situation in a childish and inconsequential way. What do they hope to accomplish by punishing civilians for the mistake of a military response? Was the reunited foursome asked to perform at an army base–if so, I would understand this decision. But once you start punishing a country for the mistakes of its soldiers, you’ll end up ceasing to play in places like the United States, England, Russia, etc. Tell me, Mr. Black. Where is your mind?

Elvis Costello, who has canceled a mini-tour in Israel, has issued an eloquent, if not naive, statement: “I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.” Two problems with this. 1) Yes, the Israelis are partly to blame for the deplorable conditions only because they are restricting what comes in and out of Gaza through the tight security based on concerns of weapon smuggling. That being said, Hamas has given Israel very little reason to feel comfortable doing otherwise. 2) When the rock legend says “in the name of national security,” he unintentionally undermines the validity of said concern. There’s a great many things a country can do in the name of national security especially when the country is on the defensive as Israel is. Israel’s need to protect itself is not a proactive initiative, but a reactive one, and frankly, intimidation and humiliation are two small human conditions when they are sized up against a fear of extinguishment.

“I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation,” Costello adds. Then why cancel the shows? Once again, punishing Israeli citizens for the unfortunate political atmosphere is ultimately pointless. If anything, longtime fans may end up resenting the bespectacled songwriter. He did however articulate that the conflict “too grave and complex” to be addressed at a concert. So I’ll give him that. You can’t talk about suicide bombers and checkpoints in between “Pump It Up” and “Alison.” One point, Costello.

The blogosphere is atwitter because the Gorillaz have also announced a cancellation of it’s appearance at the Pic.Nic festival. Damon Albarn, co-creator with Jamie Hewlett of the cartoon rock band franchise, hasn’t issued a statement  regarding the decision which makes the band’s cancellation politically worthless. But I happen to know that the sometimes Blur frontman is a vocal proponent of the Free Tibet movement (in fact, one of his animated band members sometimes bears a Tibetan flag sticker on its animated guitar). Since, once again, there was no reason given, political or otherwise, for the no show, I can only assume that Albarn equates the two regions–Gaza and Tibet–as mirrored instances of senseless oppression. Whether its condition is deplorable or not, Gaza is still technically a democracy.

However, in regard to the British indie rock band Klaxons and it’s cancellation: Israel, you’re better off. Trust me.

What do you think?

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The international media conspiracy and/or the new Jew review. Take your pick.

14 Responses

  1. imabigloser

    are you serious? you’re really complaining about that statement? pretty sure the pixies never signed up to be political analysts, they’re just human beings and you are reading far too much into their statement. it is simply a statement saying they’re cancelling their show. A fact. To call it childish and inconsequential is ridiculous, the message is apolitical.

  2. Arye Dworken

    Big Loser. How can you say it’s apolitical when they’ve just cancelled? What has changed since they first booked the show…?

  3. You're wrong

    What makes you think it has anything to do with politics? Sure, the timing would be perfect for that, but what if it actually IS something beyond their control? Maybe try leaving the Upper West Side sometime and you can realize there is this whole world that doesn’t give a shit about Jewish politics.

  4. Arye Dworken

    Ha ha. I have left the Upper West Side. I have been, for example, to Midtown and once to the Village.

  5. Pancho from Germany

    “You’re wrong”, you’re certainly wrong.
    The world /does/ “give a shit” about the Middle East conflict and the antizionist Free Gaza campaign.
    And quite many leftists from all over the world are standing by their regressive, nationalist and islamist comrades.
    What they have in common is a tapered antiimperialist ideology that we all have to be seriously worried about.

  6. Wendy Foster

    Let me get this straight- it’s wrong to punish Israelis for the behavior of their government by denying them rock concerts, but perfectly fine to punish Palestinians for the behavior of their government by denying them adequate electricity, medical care, freedom of movement, etc.? Then I think “I’ve got something against you.”

  7. Punim

    Wendy- since when did he say it was “perfectly fine to punish Palestinians”? I think the point Dworken was making was about the critical lens that Israel is consistently under, more so than many other nations on this planet.

  8. Ab

    Punim, who cares if they’re more criticized? I’m sick of this idiotic argument…so what? Let’s concentrate less on Israel and allow Palestinians to continue suffering?

  9. Randall

    Why are these performers using collective punishment against Jews? I think I’ll boycott their albums, particularly Gorillaz, from whom I had been considering buying a CD. That’s not happening now.

  10. Nate

    Arye, what do you have to say about cancelling an Israeli show only to turn around and perform in Lebanon and Syria? One has a government that contains a party calling for the death of Jews the world over and the other… well Syria’s Human Rights record pretty, much speaks for itself. How do you suppose one might get an explanation out of Gorillaz?

  11. bryandean

    Israel has been acting like a terrorist state by blockading food and medicine from Palestine and this is VERY wrong. End the occupation and free Palestine.

    I respect Gorillaz and the Pixies VERY much!

  12. nadav

    there is no food and aid blockaide on gaza! but the border between israel and gaza is otherwise sealed because of the war condition betweeen israel and hamas that try all the time to penetrate israel to perform suicide attacks and btw still hold a soldier without red cross visits. the flolita was a ship with weapon and no aid only for test the israel navak blockade to enssure that no iranian or syrian weapons will pass into hamas. bye bye..

  13. a discerning jew

    you guys are getting all riled up for nothing. apply some Lenin logic and follow the money – post flotilla Israel likely meant a huge bump in insurance premiums for the artists and the meager profit margin thus turned toa loss. Simple really… ;)


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